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Cleveland Play House’s 2017 New Ground Theatre Festival Introduces Fresh New Works

Posted March 22, 2017 in Press Releases

Media contact:
Kelly Luecke
(216) 712-6292

Three Fresh New Works and the Modern Staging of a Multi-Generational Classic Will Comprise CPH’s 2017
New Ground Theatre Festival
May 11 – 20
Festival Headlined by the Stage Adaptation of Disney’s Freaky Friday

CLEVELAND, OH (March 22, 2017) Cleveland Play House (CPH) will debut four inventive and bold new works during their 2017 New Ground Theatre Festival. This year’s New Ground will mark the 12th year that CPH, along with Honorary Producer Roe Green, will present their annual showcase of new theatrical works, where they introduce compelling new plays written by groundbreaking and nationally recognized playwrights. As in years past, offerings will range from a mixture of fully produced productions to play readings in their infancy. Part of the New Ground Theatre Festival’s mission is to offer playwrights the opportunity to test new work in front of an audience for the very first time, which gives Cleveland audiences the chance to witness the birth of these incredible new contributions to American Theatre. This year’s New Ground is sponsored by Ohio Savings Bank, a division of New York Community Bank, and will run from May 11 – 20.

The New Ground Theatre Festival (NGTF) would not be possible without the support of Honorary NGTF Producer Roe Green. Due to the generosity of Ms. Green, each year one leading American playwright is invited to CPH to develop a new project culminating in a free conversation with the playwright and a public reading of the script. This year’s recipient of the Roe Green Award is Lloyd Suh. A reading of his play The Chinese Lady will take place on Saturday, May 20 at 3 p.m.

This year’s New Ground will be headlined by Freaky Friday, a new musical comedy based on the celebrated novel by Mary Rodgers and hit Disney films. New Ground will also include a concert reading of the Nolan Williams Project written and composed by Nolan Williams, Jr.—an emerging new voice in musical theatre—and the Festival will conclude with the world premiere production of These Mortal Hosts by Cleveland’s own Eric Coble.

CPH’s Associate Artistic Director Robert Barry Fleming states: “CPH takes seriously making meaningful contributions to the field and the American canon of dramatic narratives, and new work does that. It is the lifeblood of any American regional theatre and we’re thrilled that we can share such a diverse, in every sense of the word, set of offerings in the 2017 CPH New Ground Theatre Festival.”

The New Ground Theatre Festival is also made possible in part by state tax dollars allocated by the Ohio Legislature to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically.

Roe Green Award

Each year, the Roe Green Award is awarded to a nationally recognized playwright for outstanding achievement in playwriting. The award includes a $7,500 cash prize; a week-long residency including rehearsals; the opportunity to lead a Master Class with CPH Playwrights’ Unit, Case Western Reserve University, and Cleveland State University students; and a public reading of a new play. This year’s Roe Green Award winner is Lloyd Suh. CPH will have a reading of his play The Chinese Lady on Saturday, May 20 at 3 p.m.

LLOYD SUH (Playwright) is the author of Charles Francis Chan Jr’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery (NAATCO, forthcoming at the Guthrie Theatre with Mu Performing Arts, and at Princeton University); The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go! (Children’s Theatre Company, Ma-Yi with La Mama, ArtsEmerson, Cultural Center of the Philippines); American Hwangap (Magic Theatre, Ma-Yi, Cultural Center of the Philippines, with PCPA in Seoul, Korea, and Halcyon Theatre in Chicago with A-Squared); Jesus in India (Magic, Ma-Yi); Great Wall Story (Denver Center); and others. He has received support from the NEA Arena Stage New Play Development program, the Andrew W. Mellon Launching New Plays Into the Repertoire initiative via the Lark, NYFA, NYSCA, Jerome Foundation, TCG, and Dramatists Guild. His plays have been published by Samuel French, Playscripts, Smith & Kraus, Duke University Press, and American Theater magazine. He is an alum of Youngblood and the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, and from 2005-2010 served as Artistic Director of Second Generation and Co-Director of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab. He currently serves on the Dramatists Guild Council and has since 2011 served as Director of Artistic Programs at The Lark.

ROE GREEN (Honorary Producer) is an arts patron, community activist and chief executive officer of the Roe Green Foundation. With a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Communications from the University of Colorado and a Master’s degree in Theatre from Kent State University, her experience in stage and business management includes Cain Park, Cleveland Opera and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Today, she is President Emeritus of CAVORT, Inc., the Conference About Volunteers of Regional Theatres; serves on the Kent State University School of Theatre and Dance Advisory Board; the Foundation Board of Kent State University; the Board of Porthouse Theatre; the Board of Maltz Jupiter Theatre in Jupiter, Florida; and the Board of Cleveland Play House. She is responsible for the Roe Green Visiting Director Series for the School of Theatre and Dance at Kent State and the University of Colorado. Ms. Green has received numerous awards for her support of the arts and new play development including the State of Ohio Governor’s Award for Arts Patron (2009); the Dramatist Guild’s Patron of the Arts Award (2013); and the Muse Award from the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County (2014). In 2013, she received the CPH Centennial Star Award that recognizes select individuals who have made special and important contributions to CPH’s rich legacy of artistic and educational programming. She is the first recipient of the CPH Super Nova Award (2015) in recognition of her leadership and generosity which has been instrumental in elevating CPH’s presentation of new works through the New Ground Theatre Festival. 2017 marks the sixth year of the Roe Green Award at CPH, which recognizes a playwright and the development of a new work.

2017 New Ground Theatre Festival Productions/Readings

Freaky Friday
Book by Bridget Carpenter
Music by Tom Kitt and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey
Based on the novel “Freaky Friday” by Mary Rodgers and the Walt Disney motion pictures
Directed by Christopher Ashley
Anchor Production of the 2017 New Ground Theatre Festival
April 15 – May 20, 2017 • The Allen

When an overworked mother and her teenage daughter magically swap bodies, they have just one day to put things right again before mom’s big wedding. Freaky Friday, a new musical comedy based on the celebrated novel by Mary Rodgers and hit Disney films, is a hilarious, contemporary update of an American classic in which a mother and daughter really see what it is to be a family and experience each other’s lives first-hand, if only for a day.

The Chinese Lady
Written by Lloyd Suh
Directed by Laura Kepley
2017 Roe Green Award Reading
Saturday May 20, 2017 • 3:00 p.m. • The Helen

In 1834, Afong Moy is brought to the United States from Beijing and put on display as the “Chinese Lady” for the American public. Over the next 55 years, she performs an ethnicity that both defines and challenges her own view of herself as she witnesses stunning transformations in the American identity. Inspired by the true story of America’s first female Chinese immigrant, playwright Lloyd Suh unearths hidden history and spins a tale of dark poetic whimsy.

Nolan Williams Project
Written by Nolan Williams, Jr.
Directed by Robert Barry Fleming
Concert Reading
Saturday May 20, 2017 • 5:30 p.m. • Outcalt Theatre

To make his next big deal, an up-and-coming Philadelphia real estate developer needs to acquire—and level—a beloved family-owned soul food establishment. But as he’s taken through the restaurant’s incredible 100-year history, the present becomes entwined with the past, and the tale emerges of the escaped southern migrants who risked everything to build and celebrate their new life up north through cooking. With a live band on stage, cast members will perform select songs from this dynamic new score composed by American songwriter Nolan Williams, Jr., an emerging new voice in musical theatre.

These Mortal Hosts
Written by Eric Coble
Directed by Laley Lippard
Fully Produced World Premiere Production
May 11 – 20, 2017 • The Helen

What happens when you discover you’re not alone in your body? In this world premiere play, Cleveland writer Eric Coble takes us to the tiny town of Dove Creek, Colorado, where three seemingly random locals find themselves at the center of mysteries—and potential miracles. As their lives become increasingly linked, the line between faith and madness begins to thin, and these former strangers hurtle down a course of life-changing proportions.

New Ground Theatre Festival Schedule:

Thursday, May 11
7:30 – 10:00 p.m. Freaky Friday | Allen Theatre
7:30 – 9:00 p.m. These Mortal Hosts | The Helen

Friday, May 12
7:30 – 10:00 p.m. Freaky Friday | Allen Theatre
8:00 – 9:30 p.m. These Mortal Hosts | The Helen

Saturday, May 13
2:30 – 5:00 p.m. Freaky Friday | Allen Theatre
3:00 – 4:30 p.m. These Mortal Hosts | The Helen
5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Behind-the-Scenes Event featuring CARE
7:30 – 10:00 p.m. Freaky Friday | Allen Theatre
7:30 – 9:00 p.m. These Mortal Hosts | The Helen

Sunday, May 14
2:30 – 5:00 p.m. Freaky Friday | Allen Theatre
3:00 – 4:30 p.m. These Mortal Hosts | The Helen

Thursday, May 18
7:30 – 10:00 p.m. Freaky Friday | Allen Theatre
7:30 – 9:00 p.m. These Mortal Hosts | The Helen

Friday, May 19
7:30 – 10:00 p.m. Freaky Friday | Allen Theatre
7:30 – 9:00 p.m. These Mortal Hosts | The Helen

Saturday, May 20
1:30 – 2:30 p.m. Behind-the-Scenes: A Conversation with the 2017 Roe Green Winner | Allen Theatre Lobby
2:30 – 4:30 p.m. Freaky Friday | Allen Theatre
3:00 – 5:00 p.m. The Chinese Lady | The Helen
5:30 – 6:45 p.m. Nolan Williams Project| Outcalt Theatre
7:30 – 10:00 p.m. Freaky Friday | Allen Theatre
7:30 – 9:00 p.m. These Mortal Hosts | The Helen

Please note that Freaky Friday will have many additional performances/events leading up to New Ground, which are not included in the schedule above. For additional performance/event times, please visit

New Ground Theatre Festival FREE InsideCPH Events:

Behind-the-Scenes: CARE Program
Saturday, May 13 from 5 – 6 p.m.

In this special Behind-the-Scenes event, you will learn more about the CARE program, screen a selection of the monologues performed by professional actors, and hear from CPH’s artistic and educational staff about the entire process. If schedules align, participating playwrights might join.
*See below for additional information on the CARE program.

Behind-the-Scenes: A Conversation with the 2017 Roe Green Winner
Saturday, May 20 from 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Named for New Ground Theatre Festival Honorary Producer Roe Green, the annual Roe Green Award brings the country’s best playwrights to Cleveland to develop new work. Join this year’s winner and CPH Artistic Director Laura Kepley for an intimate and insightful discussion with this acclaimed playwright.

*CARE Program:

Cleveland Play House has commissioned 16 playwrights to create 32 monologues for our prestigious CARE curriculum. Funded by the US Department of Education, CARE aims to provide scholars in urban school districts with high-quality theatre education programs, while improving English Language Arts skills and Social Emotional Competencies. The monologues were developed specifically with our Cleveland Metropolitan School district students in mind and explore a wide range of emotions including joy, pride, despair, worry, and anger. Playwrights include New Ground favorites such as Eric Coble, George Brant, Rajiv Joseph, Kirsten Greenidge, and Lloyd Suh. Marcus Gardley, Idris Goodwin, Dominique Morisseau, Karen Zacarias, Kimber Lee, Kristoffer Diaz, Laura Schellhardt, Lisa Loomer, Matthew Lopez, Philip Dawkins, and Tanya Saracho contributed as well.

Ticket & Multiple-Show Discount Pricing Information

CPH’s New Ground Theatre Festival will take place May 11 – 20, 2017. Ticket prices for each show vary and select events are FREE of charge. Tickets range in price from $10 – $100 each. CPH subscribers and multiple-show attendees will receive $10 off regular ticket prices. To order single tickets please call 216-241-6000 or visit Groups of 10+ save up to 40% off single ticket prices; call 216-400-7027.

# # #

Cleveland Play House, recipient of the 2015 Regional Theatre Tony Award® and founded in 1915, is America’s first professional regional theatre. Throughout its rich history, CPH has remained dedicated to its mission to inspire, stimulate, and entertain diverse audiences in Northeast Ohio by producing plays and theatre education programs of the highest professional standards. CPH has produced more than 100 world and/or American premieres, and over its long history more than 12 million people have attended over 1,600 productions. Today, Cleveland Play House celebrates the beginning of its second century of service while performing in three state-of-the art venues at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland.

The Ohio Arts Council helps fund Cleveland Play House with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. We also thank the residents of Cuyahoga County for supporting Cleveland Play House through Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.

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